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You might already have figured out what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but what about the spaces in between? “What should I snack on if I get hungry?” is a question that often comes up in my nutrition clinic. This question arises so frequently that I thought it worth pulling my thoughts together in this little guide.

The advice to eat little and often—to graze—is outdated. Nutritional science now recognizes (mainly through studies on fasting) that, for most people, the ideal eating pattern is three meals a day with no snacks in between. This approach allows your body to rest from eating, which needs resetting.

That might seem miles away from where you are right now, and that’s not unusual. When you work on your diet, your cravings and energy levels will realign if you focus on eating real food, always include protein and plenty of vegetables, and scale back on starchy carbs. While your energy levels rebalance, it can be helpful to have a small snack to keep your blood sugar levels stable. There are other reasons for snacking, such as having long gaps between meals, which we’ll explore in a moment.

As a nutrition coach, I want to make sure your snacks are the best for your health. Read on for my top 20 snack ideas you can quickly assemble, plus five tasty snack recipes to try. Despite their healthy appearance, many ready-made snacks are filled with high-sugar dried fruits (which can upset your blood sugar levels) or additives, so it’s best to assemble your own where you can.

Here’s how…


Often, people eat for reasons other than actual hunger. It might be out of boredom, habit, or because someone brought sharable treats into the office. This is not a time to snack. What you need cannot be found in the biscuit barrel. Snack fix: if you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If you’re tempted to snack, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?”

Another reason for ending up at Snack Central is not having a decent, protein-based breakfast that keeps you fuller for longer. Toast or cereal for breakfast is a sure-fire way to a mid-morning energy dip that will leave you wanting to refuel before lunch. Snack fix: pick a protein-packed breakfast like porridge (or overnight oats) with berries and seeds or an egg-based option. Even a protein shake works if you’re in a hurry.

Have you ever slept a dreadful night and found yourself propping up the day with coffee and snacks? It’s no surprise that lack of sleep is bad news for health. You will almost certainly feel hungrier if you’re often short on sleep. Snack fix: prioritize sleep. Every aspect of your health depends on it.

Leaving very long gaps between meals can leave you hungry, and for good reason. Lunch at 1 pm, then not eating dinner until 7 or 8 pm, is a long gap. In this case, it might make sense to have a small snack. Snack fix: if you know you’ll have a long gap between meals, plan to have a healthy snack. Planning means you’ll make healthier choices.

Why Do You Snack?

Snacking often happens for reasons beyond hunger, like boredom, habit, or availability of tempting foods. Recognizing why you snack can help you address the root cause.

Snack Size

By definition, snacks are small. They are not intended to be the size of a meal, so note the portion sizes included here. TIP: if you’re eating from a larger packet—say, nuts or popcorn—take out only a snack portion, transfer it to a small container, and put the rest back in the cupboard for another time.

15 Healthy Snack Ideas

  1. Mixed Nuts: Nuts are ideal for snacking on the go, high in healthy fats and naturally filling. Add a few seeds if you like. Snack size: a small handful.
  2. Popcorn: Considered a whole grain, popcorn contains disease-fighting polyphenols. Buy the salty type for a delicious alternative to potato chips. Snack size: 20g/1 cup.
  3. Cottage Cheese Boats: Use little gem lettuce as a boat to hold cottage cheese, topped with chopped cucumber or other salad veg. Perfect for work-from-home days. Snack size: 2 little gem leaves + 150g cottage cheese.
  4. Fruit, Nuts, and Seeds: Choose a fruit like an apple, pear, or two plums and combine it with a few nuts and seeds. It’s simple enough to take to work or eat on the go. Snack size: fruit (approx. 80g) + 5-10 nuts + a dessert spoon of seeds.
  5. Tamari Roasted Nuts and Seeds: Create your mix of nuts and seeds with a tasty salty topping, like soy sauce. Snack size: a handful.
  6. Oatcakes with Topping: Top oatcakes with unsweetened nut butter, hummus, guacamole, cream cheese, smoked mackerel pâté, or cottage cheese and cucumber. Snack size: 2 oatcakes + your choice of topping.
  7. Yoghurt with Mixed Berries: For a sweet treat, mix quark or cottage cheese with low-sugar berries like raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries. A generous handful of berries + 150g plain yoghurt, cottage cheese, or quark is a snack size.
  8. Seaweed Thins are a great source of iodine, which is essential for thyroid health. A 5g pack is a snack size.
  9. Hummus with Crudités: Pair hummus with chopped cucumber, red pepper, or celery. Chickpeas are a great source of vegetarian protein. Snack size: veggie sticks + ½ a small tub of hummus (150g).
  10. Avocado with Seeds: The healthy fats in avocado help stave off cravings. Snack size: ½ an avocado + a small handful of pine nuts or seeds.
  11. Feta, Olives, and Tomatoes: For a deli-style snack, combine feta with olives and cherry tomatoes. The snack size is 6 cubes of feta, 6 olives, and a small handful of cherry tomatoes.
  12. Stuffed Celery Sticks: Fill celery sticks with cream cheese or unsweetened almond butter. Snack size: 1 celery stick + 1 tablespoon cream cheese or nut butter.
  13. Miso Soup: A savoury addition to your diet, helpful for female hormone balance. Snack size: 1 mug of instant miso soup + 1 oatcake.
  14. Bowl of Soup: Choose a veg-based or protein-based soup without potatoes, rice, or noodles. Snack size: 1 small bowl/mug (about ½ a carton if buying fresh).
  15. Turkey or Ham Roll-Ups: Fill slices of turkey or ham with cream cheese and your choice of sliced pickle or cucumber/tomato, then roll up. Snack size: 2 slices turkey or ham + 1 teaspoon cream cheese per slice + your choice of veggies.

By incorporating these healthy snack ideas into your routine, you can maintain your energy levels and support your overall health. Enjoy!